Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Freelancing vs. telecommuting in a slow economy

There has been a lot of talk in the online freelance writing community about whether the economy is affecting their workload. My own experience is that it is not, at least not much: After a slow January and a slow first few weeks of February, I've found my workload has increased to nearly what it was before the holidays, and that with me slacking off on the marketing front.

I personally feel that as freelance writers we actually have greater job security than our "captive" counterparts. While an employee is dependent on one single company for their income, we have many clients and therefore many sources of income. This means that if we lose a client, we have others to help cushion the blow.

However, it appears that while working from home as a freelance writer has its benefits, working from home as a full-time employee does not. Yesterday I saw this article about telecommuters and others with flexible schedules who fear they'll be the first to go when companies start cutting back. As it happens, I know two telecommuters who were just laid off and had already heard their concerns, so I can definitely see this article's point of view.

But I'm eager to hear my readers' thoughts on the matter. What do you think? Is telecommuting riskier than self-employment, despite what conventional wisdom would say?


Lori said...

We freelancers live with the shadow of failure hanging close over our shouldres. We're one project away from either success or poverty. Okay, a bit overstated, but most of us have stared at the future and have seen no projects - or checks - pending.

Still, we are in complete control of our destiny. Telecommuters are at the mercy of their companies. I chose the former. :)

Anonymous said...

I think so, because so many companies run on the fallacy that you're only "working" if they can see your face.

It's vitally important for a telecommuter to put a written contract in place. This helps avoid a lot of the problems created by the people in the office who weren't bright enough or too scared to negotiate a telecommuting deal and gives you appropriate compensation during layoffs. I've written several of these for telecommuting friends -- they work. I base them on my freelance contracts, and then bump it up into corporate speak.

No thanks, Freelancers' life for me -- I get to pick and choose with whom I work, keep my own hours, and write about whatever interests me, getting paid for it.

Katharine Swan said...


Definitely a bit overstated. I actually think that full-time jobs offer nothing but false security. There's actually nothing that says you'll get to keep your job just because you work full-time. I agree that there are some scary moments in freelancing, but nothing so major as the terror of being unemployed, completely and utterly without income or prospects.

That being said, though, obviously freelancing isn't for everyone. I think your success a freelancer is more dependent on your efforts, as opposed to full-time work, where you can coast for quite a while before slacking off catches up with you (if ever).


Good tip on the telecommuting contracts. I had never heard of them being used or necessary, though I should have known better. Contracts aren't only for freelancers!


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